When Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics was published twenty years ago, it became an instant classic – a beautifully written study tracing the social disintegration of “Ballybran,” a small village on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. In this richly detailed and sympathetic book, Nancy Scheper-Hughes explores the symptoms of the community’s decline: emigration, malaise, unwanted celibacy, damaging patterns of child rearing, fear of intimacy, suicide, and schizophrenia. Following a recent return to “Ballybran,” Scheper-Hughes reflects in a lengthy new preface and epilogue on the well-being of the community and on her attempts to reconcile her responsibility to honest ethnography with respect for the people who shared their homes and their secrets with her.
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